Along the Natchez Trace

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Day Trip to Nicaragua - Part II

Our tour guide, Luis, told us the story of the lake.  Seems in ancient time, a princess lost her fiance.  I can't remember how, but she cried, and cried...  and cried so many tears that this lake was created. The princess drowned in her tears.  In the middle of the lake there are 2 volcanic islands...  both rising to a point. and I think you can guess what part of her sticks above the water to this day.
The only thing that Luis couldn't understand is that one is several hundred feet higher than the other.

Our tour took us to a wonderful lookout point of Crater Lake, Leguna de Apoyo.
 My camera lens just couldn't take in the whole scene.  This photo shows me and Bill at the lake.  As it happens, this is also the site of an "Earthcache" geocache.  We had to answer some geological questions on the website, but logged it...  our first find in Nicaragua, and our 17th country in which we've found a cache.

 As is often the case, there is plenty of opportunity for shopping at nearly every tourist attraction.  While it is fun to browse through the booths, we seldom buy anything.  

In this area we saw dozens and dozens of these little vehicles... 
I think this one is a taxi.  I have no idea who makes them or how much they might cost, but what an economical way to get around ....  they were all over the place..  just going at a slower pace than the big vehicles.

By this time it is getting close to lunch time.  Our tour takes us to Catarina....   to a huge indoor market.
This beautiful mural shows the town in an earlier age...

If you can't find something you like in these rows and rows of merchandise, you are indeed hard to please.  There is clothing, belts, hats, shoes...  

Artwork of all kinds..  like these painted feathers...
Or pottery, wood carvings, paintings, jewelry...  even carved chess sets.

There is plenty of foods...  already prepared and ready to eat...  or
perhaps some local coffee or regional wine?
The market is laid out in a huge enclosure...  mostly roofed, but an interior plaza with a fountain and a garden.  It was kind of walking through a labyrinth...  a rabbit warren of nooks and crannies.

We happened upon these three little girls...  no doubt children of some of the vendors.
They were playing with their dolls, but took the time to look up and say Hola! and give us sweet smiles.

We had ample time to do whatever shopping we wanted to do...  and then our group was to meet at the restaurant next door for lunch...
Here's part of our group in the photo at the left.  I never did count how many were on our tour, but the bus was filled to capacity....  at least 20 people.  Mostly couples plus one couples son who was visiting them to celebrate his 33rd birthday.  We had a choice of fish, chicken or beef...  Bill & I both chose the fish and it was delicious.  We also had a Tona beer...  a beer made in Nicaragua.

After lunch we were treated to a wonderful performance...  music and dancing...
These children not only played musical instruments, they danced the traditional folkloric dances of the local area.  
They were very professional and we were all impressed with their poise and talent!

After lunch we headed up to the Masaya Volcano National Park...
Driving through town we saw this outside a cemetery.
That's a horse-drawn hearse.  The casket has already been removed and taken into the cemetery.  Look at the coverings on the horses...  And see how elaborate the hearse is.

The volcano at Masaya is still active...
 That Bill, me, Ann and Steve.....  with the volcanic steam rising up around us...
We were all advised to be cautious if we had respiratory problems, as the vapors carry sulfur fumes in the air.  There are also lots of warnings that debris or rocks may be expelled from the volcano.  A regular "fire and brimstone" place!
The last serious eruption was in the late 1770's.  At that time many people died, and that cross in the center of the photo was erected....  no more human sacrifices in exchange for a more peaceful volcano.  At least that's the story...

Above I showed a photo of a funeral procession...
As it happened, we saw 3 separate funerals at different times during this day.  The first one was a procession of people...  no horse drawn hearse...  but several strong men carrying the casket high above their shoulders...  with very long lines of people following behind...  some, close to the casket, carrying the floral arrangements that will be placed at the gravesite.
This one saw even more elaborate...  it had lace curtains all around.. was quite ornamental and lavish.   The curtains were drawn and it was evident that this procession was on its way to the cemetery.  Of course all traffic pulled over in respect and let the mourners go by.

Our last city of the day was Granada....
What a beautiful plaza!

Like many cities, the large plaza was bustling with activity...
Lots of food vendors and places to sit and relax a while.  A line of horse drawn carriages were lined up and ready to take tourists on a ride through the city.  Many of the streets were cobblestone...  many of the buildings of a time gone past....

Of course when I see the old churches, I have to see inside...
While not one of the most beautiful churches we've seen, it's still quite impressive and quite lovely.

Across from the church was the Granada Hotel...
The beauty of the old building was breathtaking...
The coolness...  the quiet....  the tile floors...  the stonework....  and the ivy and vines looked as if they've been there forever.
While we won't be staying the night, it looks like a place that I'd like to one of these times.

Our bus picked us up and off we headed to our last stop of the day...
A boat ride on the lake...  to see the islands...  the expensive houses...  to see some birds or monkeys... and whatever else we come across...

But that's for tomorrow....

That's All For Today!


  1. This all looks fascinating and beautiful. And that market actually has different kinds of things than I've seen everywhere else!

  2. What a busy day you had and its not over yet, looks like too much fun.

  3. Wow - a lot going on there! I'm impressed by those hearses. The church was beautiful too.

  4. The coverings on the horses look like it could be hand crocheted?

  5. Oh, my--you are having a great time!!! We may have to dig deep down and find a reserve of adventure one of these days!

  6. If the princess is like everyone else, one side of her body is bigger than the other. One 'peak' is naturally taller than the other. ;)

  7. Thanks for sharing your incredible, colorful, interesting photos. That crater lake is bigger than our crater lake! Love your header photo, by the way.

  8. Hmmm, is Nicaragua in your plans for next summer?

  9. The small town where I lived in Honduras, La Paz, had similar funeral processions. No horses, but I did see one walking procession where the casket was carried on the pall bearers' shoulders. Usually it was a small pickup, either a normal one with the casket loaded into the open bed, or one funeral home(?) had a glass enclosure that the casket was loaded into that rode above the sides of the bed of the truck. The majority of the people walked from wherever in town the funeral was held down to the cemetery, as in your pictures, using umbrellas to keep the sun at bay. Usually there was a small band, maybe 3 or 4 musicians playing horns (tuba and trumpet) along with a bass drum, right behind the truck and they played march music (think Sousa) as the procession walked.